Premium voices in iOS 5: What went wrong?

When I heard the news of the release of iOS 5, I didn't own an iDevice. However, I was thrilled to know that it'll provide Premium voices as well as the previous ones which are now called Compact voices. So I was looking forward to trying them as soon as I got my iPhone 4S. I used to think that my 4S came with the Premium voices though I didn't have the "Use compact voice" option under Settings->General->Accessibility->VoiceOver -- I was wrong. Honestly, I was mistaken partly because I was pleased with the way the Compact voices were functioning.

At any rate, as I was updating my iOS from V5.1 to V5.1.1, my 4S also downloaded the Premium voice for American English. Again, I can't tell why that didn't happen when I updated from V5.01 to V5.1. Now the point is that I don't like the Premium American English voice at all, but before moving any further let's get this straight: when I refer to Premium voices I primarily mean the American English Female voice, so the experience might be different with other Premium voices. To make sure you have the Premium voice, go to Settings->General->Accessibility->Voiceover, flick right to see if you have the "Use compact voice" option. If you have it and it's set to "Off," you're using the Premium voice for your language. Here it's located to the right of the "Use pitch change" option.

The benefits of Premium voices

As far as the over-all audio clarity is concerned, the Premium voices use a higher bit rate. This is especially evident on calls where it's easier to hear the audio though the bit rate tends to be reduced on calls regardless of the selected voice. Also, the Premium voices make it easier for me to distinguish between "m" and "n" both in typing and in moving around character by character. With the Compact voices sometimes "m" and "n" are announced so similarly that even my supposedly sensitive ears fail to tell which one is which. And, last but not least, the Premium voices apparently have slightly better pronunciations. For instance, the Premium American English voice doesn't pronounce "purchases" as "per cases." That's pretty much all about it.

The Premium voices need an overhaul

The first thing I noticed with the Premium American English voice is that it tends to crackle frequently. To check this in action, just notice how it pronounces lowercase letters "f," "e" and "r" when typing. The Premium voices have been prepared using a volume setting higher than the Compact voices, and that's mostly to blame for the crackle. You'll notice this if you compare it with Compact voices. When using the Premium voice, the equivalent Compact voice is also used to read deleted characters and heading names. So if these voices are to stay, their volume should be decreased a bit.

Second -- and this is my major gripe, the Premium American English voice has serious intonation problems. When reading phrases and clauses its pitch gets badly altered for some words in the phrase, generating very odd pitch problems which make comprehending speech all the more difficult. To check this yourself, make sure you're using the Premium voice, go to Settings->General->Accessibility->VoiceOver and flick right until you hear the following: "VoiceOver speaks items on the screen." Notice how it reads the phrase "speaks items," strangely emphasizing the word "speaks." Flicking further right will move you to the option "Use pitch change" which is again badly read. Also notice how it reads the word, "Off," when an option has an On/Off property. Interestingly the Compact American English voice doesn't suffer from these shortcomings and closely mimics the way English is actually spoken. As such, I can't comfortably use the Premium voice in iBooks, Read2Go, the Email app and the Messaging app.

Third, though the Premium voice has a higher bit rate, it seems to my ears that it unnaturally puts together vowels, consonants and syllables to form words. In short, it lacks the oomph which is the essence of a good TTS engine -- something which doesn't affect the Compact American English voice at all. In general, I have a great habit of coming to terms with new TTS engines and that's what I did when moving from Eloquence to Vocalizer on my 4S, but the updated Vocalizer which comes with iOS 5 and forms the Premium voices is a different story.

Where do we go from here?

As you might imagine, after three days of grappling with the newly downloaded Premium voice I reverted to the Compact voice. It speaks much more naturally, has a more realistic volume, doesn't crackle, and provides a pleasant intonation. I hope Apple takes a closer look at TTS options in iOS 6. Can the Premium voices be improved? If so, it should be done. Also, now that Nuance has purchased Loquendo and SVox, can Apple get better voices from them other than their Vocalizer? That's definitely worth investigating. At the very least, my sincere hope is that Compact voices aren't removed from iOS 6! Also as we're at it, I'd like to see a pronunciation facility in iOS 6.

What do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Also, do you -- users of British and non-English Premium voices -- have the same opinion?

Comments

Nuance Vocalizer

Although this may sound crazy, I actually like the compact version of Vocalizer that shipped with iOS 4 better than I do the current iOS 5 version. The voice sounded less whiny and breathy, and although it may have sounded a little less lively than the current compact voice, I still like it better. As far as the premium voices...I would like to see the option to have more than one premium voice on a device at a time, and more than one voice choice for a given language--U.S. English, in my case.

Re: Nuance Vocalizer

Michael, I agree with you about the breathiness and the so-called crankiness of the American English female Premium voice. I also like the idea of two Premium voices per language. Of course, I'd rather have one perfect Premium American English voice instead of two problematic ones.

Hi,I think your right there,

Hi, I think your right there, I mean nuance have done nothing at all with talks, they are not supporting the developers in any way, in fact, I think there are only two people working on it, it might even only be one now since someone who was working on it died a few years ago. But, i'm sure its not the actual people who are working on its fault, they are barely keeping up with new handsets and symbian versions, and certainly haven't widened accessibility to third party apps, the nokia store isn't even accessible to talks. also, I am sure the talks developers were well intentioned when they didn't make any adaptations to the screen for talks, but with a touch screen you have to have some sort of adaptation to make it usable quickly, I tried a nokia touch screen handset for a week with talks and mobile speak. I ended up selling it, as although it was easier to use with mobile speak, I just wasn't able to interact with the phone while on a call easily, it was a nightmare bringing up the number pad and ending the call, even with mobile speaks adaptations to the screen. Talks was even worse though as it was so easy to select the wrong thing, and you had to grope all over the screen just to find something, there was no flicking or anything, and if you touched the wrong icon well you get the point.

Changing Voices?

I was just so happy to get away from MobileSpeaks when I switched my iPhone I never took the time to explore all the voice options. Is there a guide on how to do this? I would hate to play around with it on my own an then end up with a voice I hated and couldn't go back.

I use British English and I'm happy with it

Hi! I use British English as my default language on my iPhone 4S, and I'm pretty sure I'm not using the compact voice. All the criticisms you make about the US English premium voice do not apply to the British English premium voice: however, I can't comment on the US English voice's performance, since I don't like that voice myself and never use it. I've noticed that the compact French voice is sometimes a tiny bit distorted, but I can still understand it fine: the other compact voices I use are Australian English and German, and they both sound fine to me, although I haven't used the German voice much.

Re: I use British English and I'm happy with it

Clare, it's good to know that at least the British English Premium male voice is functioning as expected.

I use the british english

I use the british english voice on my phone, I can clearly tell the difference between the compact and so called premium voices. I think the way apple went about implementing them from start to finish was just a bad idea. I mean, for starters, what's with the needing to connect the phone to wifi and a charger for a few minutes just to get the premium voices? when they aren't even a major ios upgrade, they should be shipped included in ios. Secondly though, I don't feel these voices are at all premium, they are basically the same voices that ship with jaws in the realspeak solo direct package, and sound like a lot of tts did 3 or 4 years ago, so not at all current technology. I don't know anyone who uses them on the pc for reading, as they aren't human sounding at all. I think voices they really should think about using with iOS are the ivona voices, as they are very good for tts. OK, you can still tell they are not human, but I guess that will always be the thing with tts, it will never sound quite real. However, the british english amy voice is so good that I have actually stopped using eloquence with jaws because she is much easier to listen to, and she doesn't have any strange artifacts or intonation problems that most sapi voices have. Also, I can type on the keyboard at full speed, there are no delay issues like with other sapi voices. The killer reason though I think these voices should be used instead of the current ones with iOS, is because they are available for android, in fact, apple is falling behind considerably compared to android in the area of tts availability, because that's one area where the openess of android has allowed companies to make there products available, whereas with apple we are restricted to the one option. I would encourage anyone who hasn't heard the ivona voices to visit www.ivona.com and have a listen to all the voices, in particular amy and then write to apple about there tts policy if you think they should be more open. I actually convert all my ebooks to tts narrated audio, because I couldn't stand to listen to there tts read to me for any length of time especially a story. It should be up to us what voices we use on the iPhone, not apple to decide for us.

Re: I use the British English

Great comments, Alex. Let me address some of them here.

I think the way apple went about implementing them from start to finish was just a bad idea. I mean, for starters, what's with the needing to connect the phone to wifi and a charger for a few minutes just to get the premium voices? when they aren't even a major ios upgrade, they should be shipped included in ios.

Essentially I agree with you especially considering the fact that not everyone can grab these Premium voices in a couple of minutes. Here it took more than a couple of months and many connections to the charger with WiFi turned on to have them downloaded and installed.

I think voices they really should think about using with iOS are the ivona voices, as they are very good for tts.

I couldn't have mentioned this better! Ivona provides the best TTS engines nowadays and Amy is a great Voice! Even its American voices are better than the current Premium Vocalizer voices.

The killer reason though I think these voices should be used instead of the current ones with iOS, is because they are available for android, in fact, apple is falling behind considerably compared to android in the area of tts availability, because that's one area where the openess of android has allowed companies to make there products available, whereas with apple we are restricted to the one option.

Here it's worth mentioning that Ivona voices are available for Android as a beta application. In fact, if you go browse blindness-oriented Android email lists you would rarely find success stories with Ivona and Android 4 -- they're both sluggish and suddenly stop working. Furthermore, both sVox and Loquendo are problematic with Android 4 (ICS). Loquendo hasn't been updated for ICS and sVox crashes are frequent under ICS. Both engines are now owned by Nuance which doesn't like offering voices to single customers; as such, I think they won't be updated for Android 4 as single-user apps. Though I also think Apple should consider taking a look at Ivona for iOS 6, I believe Android's openness hasn't actually resulted in a more convenient access to TTS engines. Apart from what I mentioned above, manufacturers such as Sony and many tablet sellers haven't included the newer Google TTS in their Android 4.0 ROM implementation, leaving users at the mercy of the old Pico TTS. Worse than that, the newer TTS engine which is only available for American and British cannot be installed unless one roots their handset which isn't easy or recommended at all. Some of these don't even come with an Android screen reader installed, making the situation all the more complicated. So arguably iOS users are in a better situation at least one Compact voice and one Premium voice ship or can be downloaded for each supported language under iOS without requiring sifting through half-supported/half-updated commercial options.

Hi Amir, regarding the

Hi Amir, regarding the charger and wifi issue for getting the premium voices. I think the secret is to run your battery down a bit, and then connect it to wifi and the charger and then the voices download. I think if the battery is full it doesn't work for some reason. your comments are very interesting about android, I had no idea about some of the lack of tts updates, though I did know about manufacturers not providing rom upgrades in a timely manner after release. Still, your comments make me even more glad I didn't seriously consider android when trying to decide between an iPhone and android. I have also been put off by the high levels of malware that is being produced for android, in fact I think I won't even be considering it again unless they make some very serious changes. Over all I really like ivona as a tts, though I am having one problem I can't figure out, the ivona tts doesn't seem to raise the pitch of the voice when it goes over a capital letter, I have changed the pitch value several times without success, I did try writing to ivona support a week or so ago but have had no reply, which is a bit annoying considering they were very quick to reply when I had a purchasing question, as there website is very confusing. Its a bit annoying at the moment that I have no way at all to tell if letters are in capitals or not, so far that is my only major issue though, and I did find one phrase the tts makes a mess of pronouncing with the amy voice, but Emma said it fine.

Re: Hi Amir, regarding the

Still, your comments make me even more glad I didn't seriously consider android when trying to decide between an iPhone and android.

As I mentioned elsewhere a while ago, Android's openness hasn't translated into better access to all devices and manufacturers. Updating issues aside, the only true iPhone competitor in the Android world is the Galaxy Nexus which, believe me, even many of its owners can't update outside the USA and whose access model isn't as mature and well thought-out as that of iOS. That belongs to a different discussion, though, and I'm glad you made a great decision.

My thoughts

I'm rather surprised that nuance bought Svox. That's news to me. It's actually sad because I'm personally not a fan of their voices. The US one sounds like she's really evil and she wants to punch you in your face at the first convenience. :D Anyway, personally I switch between Karen compact and daniel premium. If I had a choice I'd probably be using lea, karen, and serena in compact which was the UK voice in iOS 4. I really miss it actually, it even brieved at times.

Great Discussion

This is all fine and well (and great reading), but have people written to Apple with these feature requests? And do we know if the Apple Accessibility team listens to user feedback? It might be worth trying a campaign-of-the-month-style request to Apple if there is enough interest.

Re: Great Discussion

Hi Michael,

This is all fine and well (and great reading), but have people written to Apple with these feature requests? And do we know if the Apple Accessibility team listens to user feedback? It might be worth trying a campaign-of-the-month-style request to Apple if there is enough interest.

To be honest, I haven't yet reported this to Apple's Accessibility department though I'm going to send them a message to talk about the American English Premium voice issues and provide them with the URL to this article. I'm sure they do listen to user feedback. As for the Campaign of the Month, that's also a good idea provided that we all agree on the points we're supposed to raise there. Would it be enough to mention the American English Premium voice issues and leave it at that? Or should we also suggest the addition of another engine like Ivona for iOS 6? Personally speaking, I believe we'd have a better chance of moving things along if we mention both but it would be interesting to know your thoughts.

Hi, I think we should raise

Hi, I think we should raise both issues, as firstly, apple is unlikely to just change some of the voices, they are either going to want to do a complete revamp of all english voices, or nothing. Also, we don't know how far along the planning is for ios 6, I suspect it may be two late for them to introduce new voices at least to the initial release of ios 6. As I assume any engine would have to be adapted to ios, and also have to undergo extensive trials and testing. Also, it probably would take them quite a while negotiating with a tts manufacturer, be that ivona or anyone else to include their engines in ios. I imagine that ios 6 is well off the drawing board and probably in alpha testing, I think I am right in saying it goes into developer beta over the summer at some point. I think the best plan is to put forward a coherent message, arguing that the current voices are not fit for purpose and explain why, and go on to suggest an alternative that is of much higher quality, that would benefit not only us, but siri users as well.

Good points, Alex

Great observations, Alex. So let's see what others think and if there's enough interest we'll discuss the wording of that message. At the very least and if consensus isn't reached, I think sending separate messages to accessibility@apple.com wouldn't be a bad idea.

how do i get the evona voices?

How do i get the evona voices on my iPhone and I defo agree, the female british voice was soo much better than the current british one. I use the australian one, the US compact voice doesnt distinguish between some of the letters, the Australian compact voice is a lot clearer... not a huge fan of the premium voice though... sounds really squeeky...

that's the point, currently

that's the point, currently you can't get them on the phone. I think perhaps we should start a campaign with apple to change the tts they give us, after all we are the consumers who have to use it, and surely we are the better judge of quality than apple. I guess apple aren't experts in tts, and so provided us with what they thought was a good tts, but really is several years out of date.

ah okay now that makes sense

Ah now I get what all the fuss is about, yh I tried some of the voices and they definitely sound more appealing. And a campaign does sound pretty reasonable. Apple are quite responsive, I sent an email a few months ago and I got a really nice reply, but whether anything becomes of it is a different matter.

Not significant issues for me

Hi, Maybe I'm less inclined to notice these issues than most people, but I've gotten used to premium Samantha's reading style and don't find it hard to listen to. Granted, some choice in the TTS we're able to use would be nice, but I don't view it as a requirement by any means. i'd urge anyone who does feel strongly about this to send politely worded messages to Apple Accessibility, explaining their position. Yours, Zack.

ivona doesn't make sense, how about acapela?

I don't hold out out much hope for ivona making it on to ios for the following reasons: 1. ivona doesn't have ios anything. Their voices are written in non-objective C format. It would require so much work to switch the coding that I don't see them doing it. 2. Apple likes Nuance. Apple has signed agreements with nuance, and I would bet on vocalizer and real speak solo staying. The only other voice option I can think of is acapela. They already have an ios sdk, and could easily integrate into the operating system. There are some downsides however, such as high memory needs (apple does want a lot of devices to support ios6) and slow response times. It would make more sense to ask apple to ask nuance to put eloquence in ios6; after all, nuance does own eloquence. Again, this would require so much coding that I would not expect it until ios8 or even later, if at all. This, in my opinion, makes the most sense. Oh, and my opinion about the voices. I like compact Samantha (U.S. english) I really hate premium Samantha, and Daniel (british) is better as premium than compact, in my opinion. However, it messed with siri (anyone who thinks it doesn't has not pronounced the short o vowel), so I switched back to compact Samantha.

I might be wrong, but I am

I might be wrong, but I am sure I saw on the website that ivona does have an apple sdk. But I am not a hundred percent sure. I certainly wouldn't mind having eloquence as an alternative, but ivona would be my preferred option.

Re: ivona doesn't make sense, how about acapela?

Hi Synthesizer 101,

Apple has signed agreements with nuance, and I would bet on vocalizer and real speak solo staying.

That's very true. In fact, another important point is that Nuance offers TTS support for languages which aren't supported by other manufacturers, so that's why staying with Nuance makes much more sense for Apple. I've also heard that Ivona has an SDK for iOS but given how poorly and sluggishly their Android app functions especially under ICS I'm not sure how Apple can work around that. It's also possible that Nuance have improved their TTS offerings after purchasing Loquendo and sVox (updating Vocalizer is also likely), so let's see what the future holds. To my ears the quality of Premium Samantha is downright horrible. Honestly, I don't like Acapela either -- its bit rate is high but it has too many intonation and pitch oddities to live with. At any way, I'm still open to our Campaign effort for TTS engines provided that enough people express their support here.

Sadly, what I've seen so far

Sadly, what I've seen so far with Nuance buying other companies is they seem to buy them just to get rid of competition. They're not doing anything to improve their voices, which is really sad because they're everywhere now... Probably why they have the money to do that sort of thing. Thus, we have their Polish voice which came out in 2002 by Lernaut&Hauspie. 10 years later all it gained is a crappy compact version and a higher sampling rate. It still has intonation issues and major pronunciation glitches.

Re: Sadly, what I've seen so far

You're right, Peter. And add to that list Eloquence whose development almost stalled after it was acquired by Nuance. It was included in TALKS but what Nuance did with it was changing its bit/sampling rate. Over the past few years JAWS, WinEyes and Kurzweil 1000 have shipped with the very same Eloquence. I even managed to developed an advanced phonetic root-based dictionary for Eloquence with 20,000 entries for the Symbian-based release of Eloquence which could also be used with its SAPI-based release for the K1000, but Nuance wasn't able or willing to include it in the non-SAPI release for WinEyes and JAWS. It's also worth mentioning that Nuance's Vocalizer hasn't done well in recent TTS comparisons and competitions -- the winner of the 2011 competition was Ivona with the likes of Voicetext of Neospeech following it -- Vocalizer was in the last 4 or 5 out of 10 candidates.

Alex's comments on Nuance and Symbian screen readers

I'm quoting the whole passage as Alex's comment appeared toward the top of the list.

I think your right there, I mean nuance have done nothing at all with talks, they are not supporting the developers in any way, in fact, I think there are only two people working on it, it might even only be one now since someone who was working on it died a few years ago. But, i'm sure its not the actual people who are working on its fault, they are barely keeping up with new handsets and symbian versions, and certainly haven't widened accessibility to third party apps, the nokia store isn't even accessible to talks. also, I am sure the talks developers were well intentioned when they didn't make any adaptations to the screen for talks, but with a touch screen you have to have some sort of adaptation to make it usable quickly, I tried a nokia touch screen handset for a week with talks and mobile speak. I ended up selling it, as although it was easier to use with mobile speak, I just wasn't able to interact with the phone while on a call easily, it was a nightmare bringing up the number pad and ending the call, even with mobile speaks adaptations to the screen. Talks was even worse though as it was so easy to select the wrong thing, and you had to grope all over the screen just to find something, there was no flicking or anything, and if you touched the wrong icon well you get the point.

Alex, at the risk of digressing a bit -- which is I think worth given the occasion and our discussion, I must say that I was a TALKS alpha tester for more than 7 years, so I can confirm your observation about Nuance not properly supporting the development. Of course, the two developers, Marcus and Torsten, were supported, but as Torsten, the great TALKS Product Manager, unexpectedly passed away, things suddenly went south. After many months someone who wasn't made for that job took his position. Like Torsten, he was visually impaired but we never heard from him on the Alpha list whereas Torsten was the star of the show, always willing to share his opinions and preparing features for future releases. Work for touch-screen support started under Torsten's supervision, but as he passed away things lagged behind and MobileSpeak nicely caught up with TALKS both in terms of the number of annual releases -- even surpassing it -- and in terms of version numbers. Now MobileSpeak for Symbian arguably has more features compared with TALKS though Eloquence which isn't offered by MobileSpeak is the only amenity absent there.

Hi Amir, that's interesting

Hi Amir, that's interesting you had contact with the talks developers, the perception on the public talks list was that the developers didn't engage with the community at all. I think talks has really had its day now, unless they can pull things around spectacularly with windows phone when it is made accessible. Even then though, I suspect nokia and nuance have lost a lot of former loyal customers permanently. Speaking for myself, I certainly would never go back, as I doubt they could bring accessibility to such a wide range of apps as iOS offers out of the box. I think talks development will stagger on for a few years, and then maybe stop or perhaps they will be bought out by code factory. I think even code factory will struggle to compete against voice over though even if they do a better job with windows phone than talks.

Re: Hi Amir

Alex, TALKS developers did follow the public list though they rarely took part in the discussions. Of course, most of the work was done by dealers and some alpha testers. That is, they'd forward bugs or interesting discussions to the developers. At any rate, I'm not sure if TALKS is to be developed for an accessible release of Windows Phone because something similar wasn't developed for Android when Code Factory started developing their own solution for that platform. At the time it was called a joint Nuance/CodeFactory venture but in reality only Nuance's Vocalizer was used in the not-so-interesting product and CodeFactory did much of the development. Needless to say, it doesn't work properly with Android 4 and an update hasn't yet been made available. Imagine having to pay for a commercial screen reader for an open-source platform!

I doubt Apple will switch to Eloquence

Much as I know that many blind people like Eloquence, I honestly can't imagine Apple switching to using it on i-devices. I personally dislike Eloquence, but, I assure you, the unlikelihood of Apple using Eloquence isn't just wishful thinking on my part: the fact is, the speech engine Apple currently uses in i-devices, in spite of all its faults, has a lot more languages in it than Eloquence has ever had to my knowledge. It seems to me that all we can do for the time being is hope for improvements in the pronunciation and the voice quality of the voices already used in our i-devices: if people want to campaign for that, go ahead!

Re: I doubt Apple will switch to Eloquence

Agreed, Clare. Though I personally like Eloquence American English -- and it's apparently their best shot at producing a great engine for a language, neither do I think that we'll see it offered as a VoiceOver engine. The issue isn't necessarily the lack of support for many languages -- it can be provided for some, but that it's never been ported for any mobile OS other than Symbian. I also know that Nuance isn't quite willing to continue supporting Eloquence for Windows. As such, I also suggest that our emails to Apple regarding TTS engines focus on the poor quality of the Premium American English Female voice, Samantha, and even suggesting Ivona as something for them to take a look at.

I don't mind the voices at all.

I don't have a problem with premium US Samantha. I thought it was a nice upgrade from what they now call the compact voice. I suppose it's just what I'm used to, but it works fine for me. To my ears, it's so much better than Eloquence. yes, i'd love something nicer like Ivona, but I'm not pining for it. I'd like to see features like custom dictionaries and pronunciations.

I might get a lot of people who disagree with me, but Eloquence

totally bites the dust when it's used in anything except JAWS. I don't know what the issue is, but pronounciation suddenly gets really, really weird. There are pauses in speech, as if the text contains a cama when it doesn't, and that causes some weird inflection issus. This is the only thing that sticks out in my mind at the mont. This is why I would really prefer that Eloquence wasn't included in iOS. And as for premium voices, I really don't like either the premium Samantha or Karen. In my short time of listening to premium Karen, I found that she had the same issues as premium Samantha. The only way I can describe it is this weird quick trembily sort of up and down shifting of a note in the middle of a word. The breathiness of both Samantha's also irritates me. So, I just stick with compact Karen. It seems to be the easiest to listen to. Compact Daniel also seems, in my opinion, to suffer from the same breathiness issue as compact Samantha. It's like as if a person were talking while constantly forcing this little stream of air through their throat alongside their speech. I hope this makes some kind of sense. Shersey

Chopping off some words

Hello, I got my IPhone about 6 months ago and I really am liking it. The samantha voice really sounded nice to me, the quality sounded great, but as I dove into the IPhone and began to explore it more, I began noticing some things with it. Recently, this actually just started happening not too long ago, I think most of it happened after the 5.1.1 update... If I read like a scentence or two, it sounds fine, but if I read something like an e-mail, it seems to chop off words to scentences and leave me in the middle of a scentence once in a while. I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the topic discussed in this blog, but it has been doing that lately and I'm trying to figure out why. For example: Let's say I write an e-mail with 3 scentences. Yesterday, I went to the store. I called my husband to ask him what he wanted me to buy in case I didn't put something on the list. I knew I was forgetting something. Ok, take those 3 scentences. The first one reads fine, and then suddenly, I hear husband and ask him what he wanted me to buy. It was like it cut off the first few words of my scentence and picked up in the middle, leaving me a bit confused. It was like if you had pressed mute on her for a few seconds than unmuted, when that is clearly not happening. Imagine you muting the tv for about 5 seconds and unmuting it. You've missed a few seconds of conversation, so now you're in a new place in the dialog and trying to figure out what was just said. This happens quite frequently in longer portions of text: blog posts, e-mails, youtube comments, etc. Is there something I can do to fix this? Is anyone else having this issue? If so, would it be best to switch to a compact voice for now, or even switch to Karen, if that's how her name is spelled? Is Karen even a premium voice? I personally don't like the way Samantha says my name. Just type Melissa in a note editor or something and listen to the way she says it. She seems to not like me or something. She has an attitude problem, lol! Anyway, as I've stated before in other comments I may have left on the site, we can always strive for a positive outcome. I'm hoping that this can be fixed in the near future. Thank you Melissa Roe, aka the girl who wants to hide from Samantha cause she's so mean lol!

Ever done a comparison?

Hi! I'm curious to know if any of you have actually done a comparison between the original voices on Windows and those on iOS. Does Samantha suffer from the same issues? I don't honestly remember, since it's been years since I used them, but curiosity got the better of me. As for me, if I ever use U.S. English I still use premium. The compact voice gives me a headache, and I find premium tolerable. As for other languages, Danish is actually somewhat pleasant. It sometimes jumbles words together, but so does the original Vocalizer on Windows. The compact voice is absolutely hideous for that language. It's too quiet, way too breathy and has too many pronunciation issues. This has been the case since iPhone OS 3.0. Just my two cents. I don't take the Mac version of Vocalizer into consideration because it's not exactly the same, and the clarity of the voices is just one example.

Hi, Both Dutch (Netherlands)

Hi, Both Dutch (Netherlands) and Dutch (Belgian) voices seem to work fine for me, though I think the compact voices are truly hideous to listen too. In the update to IOS 5 the female voice used for Dutch (Netherlands) got switched over to a male voice, which is clearer and more pleasant (so good choice there, Apple). Compared to English, Dutch is written more phonetically, which probably is the main reason they seem to be doing quite well. When I use the English voices I'm not that picky, though to circumvent the second language from using a compact voice, I'm forced to use the Irish one, which has quite a few pronunciation issues, but nevertheless isn't compact and therefore doesn't muddle up letters while typing on the on-screen keyboard. I know the iPod Shuffle has a VoiceOver kit, which uses the standard mac voice, Alex. However that voice can only do American English. I don't think Apple would have that many problems implementing thisvoice into IOS, but whether they will remains to be seen. If so, it'll become my primary English voice.

What I would use for IOS

Hi all, for me its Elquance all the way why? Because also being blind, I am also hearing in pared and when I used Jaws and still do, that TTS has always sounded clear, understandable and pronounced it right every time. I don't know how to describe it but with this TTS, I've never gotten tired of it. That or Alex or something that hasn't been mentioned yet. Does anyone like Espeak that comes bundled with NVDA? What about that synth. Maybe I'm weird but I would rather have one of the above because I find it gets the job done quicker and most importantly you can understand the outcome of what task your performing. How about what they did in Lion as an idea. You know where you get a list to choose what voice you want as check boxes. Putting something like that into IOS and expanding the list of for Lion to have eloquence. Basically for Apple to have as many TTS's as possible so that the end user can pick what they want and be done with it! In other words, it comes down to personal taste at the end of the day. That's my opinion. Elquance Espeak or Alex for IOS as well as bringing the other two Mac.

PLEASE HELP

There is a whole lot of discussion on this, but I just need to know HOW you get rid of the premium voice and go back to using the COMPACT voice for Siri and speak selection???? Pleeease help, I hate the premium voice...!!!!

I agree with the campaign!

Hello. I agree with the campaign! I use the Brazilian voice raquel in Portuguese, and don't particularly like her very much ... I think this voice a little annoying and it would be interesting to change it ... Although also not liking much of Ivona voice that offers to the Portuguese, could ask Apple to make some improvements in premium voices. Anyway, can count on my participation and collaboration in what you need.

on various topics

I am coming back to this discussion. Firstly, before people get excited, as far as I know the voiceover kit (if it is the same thing it was before) simply generates audio clips, not the actual tts voice. I know its not on the shuffle; the thing is big. Anyobne who wants to back me up on this can to file info on /system/library/speech/voices/alex.speechvoice and they will see that it is 400.3 megabytes. That would be 20% of the shuffle's memory. Anyway, the shuffle doesn't run IOS anyway. Secondly, I have tested Spanish and Chinese voices. Neither of the Spanish compact voices is very good, and the Chinese ones are OK. I agree that the check box-style selection for voices would be best in ios6, but I don't think it's going to happen; apple is trying to keep prices down. Thirdly, I think that the voiceover selection for premium/compact is reflected in siri (although since I use siri about once a month I wouldn't be any authority on that).

Premium voices

Hello I have just read your comments about these voices and I agree with some of it. I am running ipod touch 4 gen with the latest update, and for ages, I haven't been able to change from the compact voice to the premium ones, and after fiddling about with the settings on the international front, it changed to the British English one, a male voice, rather gravelly but as clear as you'll probably get. The American voice used to be on a premium level but has gone back to the compact voice. I hate these compact voices, they are fuzzy, and as I use the best ear/headphones I can get, they have a sort of quiet wooshing sound after they've spoken, especially the Australian ones. As I am English, they are the only voices I use. and I have only ever heard the English and American premium ones, I don't think the others work, well not for me. As for the pitch change idea, I can live quite happily without. It will be very interesting to see what comes out of IOS6, though I think the disability part of it isn't given enough coverage. As I am a total, the voice is more than important to me and as it happens, I have the same British male voice on my breeze portable satnav which is as clear as a bell, despite pronouncing some of the roads round here in a peculiar way. Cheers, Astra

voice preference

I am hearing impaired like someone else in this discussion. This is why I would want Ivona voices to be included as a tts option. There voices are clear and accurate and for someone who is totally blind and hearing impaired that's important. Most of my high frequency range is shot so I have trouble with understanding consonants and so there is trouble with ETI Elequence. I use yhr welsh english voices pecause they are some of the clearest. at least they are for me.